Card Comes Back for Top-Five Win
STANFORD, Calif. - Facing its toughest competition of the season, No. 2 Stanford stood tall in the face of adversity, overcoming a 2-0 deficit in the first half to grind out the 3-2 victory over No. 5 Oregon State on Saturday. The win pushes the Cardinal to 6-0 on the year and undefeated through four Pac-12 games for the first time since 2016.
The win was the first for Stanford when facing a 2-0 deficit since a 4-3 victory over Oregon State in 2000.
Despite a heavy amount of early pressure from Stanford, including four corner kicks and two shots in the opening five minutes, it was the Beavers who struck first off of a free kick in the 13th minute. It didn't take long for OSU to double its advantage, connecting a number of passes in the midfield before another goal from Gloire Amanda.
"I thought we started absolutely to the game plan - they were trying to build, we pressed fantastically, put them under immense pressure," said the Knowles Family Director of Men's Soccer Jeremy Gunn. "Everything was going how we wanted, apart from the fact we gave up a soft first goal from an unnecessary free kick, and then an uncleared delivery. So frustrating to give up that first goal after we'd started so well. Their second goal was a great timed run and finish. We started very well to plan, and suddenly we're two-nil down. I was very happy with the overall intent at the beginning, but desperately unhappy with the position we were in."
The Cardinal kept its wits despite its largest mountain to climb of the season, slowly but surely regaining control of the match with relentless pressure in the final third of the field. Again, it was corner kicks that helped Stanford gain momentum, before the Cardinal earned a free kick opportunity in the 34th minute. Gabe Segal took aim just outside the box, pinballing a ball near the goal line. Zach Ryan connected with Keegan Hughes, who served it up on a platter for Will Richmond to hammer home.
Momentum kept rolling Stanford's way, as Charlie Wehan cut off a pass from an Oregon State defender just minutes later, finding a surging Zach Ryan into the box who drilled home the equalizer.
"I knew we were playing well, we knew we had goals in us," said Gunn. "At two-nil we just needed to get our foot in the game, and we managed to get that with the first goal that puts us right back into the game.
I really felt when we got to 2-2, if the first half had just continued, we were absolutely burying them. We were all over them."
Stanford's pressure was effective to finish the half, but things reset after the break. The match proceeded with another quick flurry of corner kicks for Stanford, before play leveled out in the midfield. Each side has its chances, but it was again Stanford's pressure that would seal the victory.
Wehan was first to a dangerous ball directed to the Beaver defense and it was smooth sailing from there, serving up the game winner to Gabe Segal in the 80th minute.
"The game was there for the taking. All credit to our players that we kept working, we won the ball off the press and put in a fantastic game winner. I truly believe we got the right result. In a good, hard game, we created the lions share of the chances with the lions share of the pressure."